Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October School

I have the feeling that this is our last REAL month of school until January. We'll have just a week of real, regular school in November before we head out for a week-long homeschool road trip, then a week-long Thanksgiving plane trip (and then a week to recover? Perhaps!), and who knows how much will get accomplished in December before I throw my hands up for the month and just give the girls up to ornament crafting and endless letters to Santa?

Fortunately, it feels as if we got a lot done in October, even if it never actually feels like we get anything done  on any given day:


Will and I have been playing chess quite happily for logic study. Will goes to a scholastic chess club twice a month, and in between we've been watching episodes of Elliott's Chess School and practicing the strategies together--

--and just playing! I've discovered how to make the game a fair fight by handicapping myself--

--and so Will has started to get in some legitimate checkmates against me.


Variety is the spice of life, and thus math has gotten a (little) better this month. Both girls are doing memory drills once a week--

candy corn arithmetic puzzle
--and a variety of problems on grade-level math apps once a week--

--as well as learning new stuff. Will and I are in the home stretch with subtraction with borrowing (the last thing being borrowing across zeros), and Syd is quite ready to move on to big number building and multi-digit addition. Before we start that, however, and before Will starts multiplication, we're zipping through this little unit:

I've built a couple of Montessori-style time telling works, and I don't think it will take long for the girls to get the process down pat.

I really want MORE math, though, so I've started adding a second math work every school day--these math journals:

I set out the prompts a couple of weeks at a time, and I try to make each prompt very different, while also requiring a review or application of a skill that's already been mastered. This way, the journal prompts are fairly quick to complete, fairly fun, and can be done independently, including being done on the bleachers while one kid takes her ice skating class, or on the bench outside the ballet studio while the other kid dances.

We've still been having fun with mom-led lessons on the keyboard, violin, guitar, and recorder:

Each week each kid picks if she wants to do a music lesson that week (they usually do), with a week's worth of daily practice to follow and a "recital" at the end of the week. It's working really well so far!

Willow and I are still exploring in this subject. She's pretty resistant to conjugations and declensions at the moment, so we've been doing a lot of playing lately, trying to find a fun way to learn. Will did a couple of lessons on Mango Latin, which we can access through our public library--

--but ultimately decided that she doesn't like this program, either. I may switch to doing Latin only once a week, which will mean SLOOOOW progress, but progress nonetheless.

There has been a lot of historical fiction lately, with Syd playing her Little House and American Girl audiobooks from the library on the family stereo. We've also FINALLY moved into chapter two of Story of the World, where we may stay for the rest of the year, frankly, since who would ever want to leave the Egyptians?

For SOTW, we listen to the chapter on audiobook (while the girls do various odd things to occupy their hands, sigh)--

--answer the quiz questions, review the old quiz questions, do the mapwork, and then move on to the projects... so many projects!

Hallelujah, Sydney is now able to read some of the easier Dr. Seuss titles! She and I are also still reading Bob books together, AND I've just discovered the new Electric Company on Netflix--how did I not know about that show?!? 

One of the interesting things that I've noticed about Sydney is that she can actually read far more than she thinks she can read--she often brings me things like instructions for something, or comic strips, to read for her that she could actually read for herself... and DOES after I ask her to! Although Will doesn't really like anymore because she claims that the book selection is too baby-ish, I have Syd spend some time on the site once a week or so:

She's so content spending long periods of time "looking at" books like these that I figure that she must be reading them, whether she realizes it or not.

Will and I stalled out on grammar this month. She's been so resistant to schoolwork lately that I've cut way down on even offering dry subjects. Maybe I'll sneak the rest of nouns and verbs in during the next two months, when sit-down schoolwork is definitely going to seem a novelty.

I keep meaning to start the entire unit on human biology that I've put together, but we got pleasantly distracted by autumn, which mean lots of time in nature, lots of leaf work--

--and lots of field trips to goof around with apples and pumpkins and tons of other kids.

Starting tomorrow, our entire schoolwork will revolve around preparations for our giant road trip in a couple of weeks--we'll read the Misty of Chincoteague books, learn about the monuments along the National Mall, and figure out what we're going to see in the Smithsonian museums. The girls are going to finish learning how to tell time, then start some new math while reviewing the old. We're going to start our Thanksgiving crafting early, since we'll have so little time at home next month.

And then we're going to go on vacation!

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